Just one more point from the Otis Gibson de-briefing memo (courtesy of WICB Expose). At one point, in a list of the West Indian players’ shortcomings, it includes this sentence: “Player commitment is only financial.”
I understand the general idea motivating this criticism. Cricket is an international sport, and players should own up to the special responsibility of representing their nation. But isn’t this a rather quaint statement of purpose in the age of the IPL and T20-Sanford leagues and what not? And is it right to ask someone like, say M. Amir, a man of extremely humble origins and on a limited salary, not to be motivated for more financial stability?
In fact, given the level of risk a cricketer assumes in pursuing an international career, as well as the demands put on the modern athlete, isn’t the prospect of excellent compensation somewhat justified? It’s one thing if you’re a West Indies player in 1975, when Test cricket was still a gentleman’s sport relatively untouched by Kerry Packer and the broadcast allure. But those times are obviously gone — and indeed, in the IPL, the only motivation a foreign, established player has is money (domestic players, of course, are angling for a spot in the national team).
I don’t care if a player is playing only for money, or only for country, or — most likely the case — a mix of both. As long as the performance is top-class, and no laws/rules are being broken (sorry, Amir), play for whatever reason you want. Of course, the WICB may not have as much money on hand to pay its cricketers as the BCCI does — but this is all the more reason to cut down on Burger King costs and extraneous salaries. Lectures of Gibson’s kind likely go only so far.